"Bath salts" is the street name for a family of drugs that produce effects similar to amphetamine and cocaine.
"Teens have said it's easier for them to get pills, street drugs and bath salts than cigarettes," said Chief Randy Pentis of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department during a Tuesday press conference.
The investigation began in June when a woman crashed her car into a house, and then told sheriff's deputies that she was high on bath salts that she purchased at a smoke shop called Doughmain in Moorpark.
Joshua Wright, 36 of Moorpark, Jonathan Riedel, 31, and Brandon Sarrail, 26 of Simi Valley, were arrested after an investigation revealed the men were distributing and selling bath salts out of the Doughmain smoke shops in Moorpark and Thousand Oaks.
"This was an extraordinary investigation that resulted in a significant, and as I mentioned earlier, probably the first bath salts sales case in the state of California," said Ventura County District Attorney Gregory Totten.
Deputies say Riedel was supplying bath salts to the shops from his warehouse in Utah.
"Pills were being manufactured in a warehouse without sterile equipment or any quality control whatsoever," Pentis said.
Authorities warn that bath salts, which are usually ingested by sniffing or snorting, are extremely dangerous. They can cause acute paranoia and hallucinations, and can cause medical complications leading to seizures and even death.
"We want to warn parents, educators, youth leaders and the medical community about the harm caused by these drugs," Totten said. "The very best protection we have as a community is an informed and vigilant citizenry."
Bath salts come in many different forms and are often in bright, colorful packaging.
The Doughmain smoke shops are still in operation, but deputies say they will be keeping a close eye on the shops.